The stone age, the bronze age, the iron age, the silicon age; progress rolls forward, from the great sailing ships to the utter dependence on oil of the twentieth century, so vital that wars are fought over the dwindling reserves even as the by-products poison the planet and choke the atmosphere, nor are the dangers some distant possibility of the future for those who drill the North Sea for the precious remains of long-decayed life trapped under rock and sediment.
For robotics engineer Sofia Hartman the danger is at arms reach but second hand; her boyfriend Stian Birkeland is an engineer on the rigs for energy company Saga but her work is on remote controlled submersible drones to inspect the sea bed and the inaccessible superstructure of platforms until she receives a call instructing her to report immediately to a helipad with her equipment.
A rig has sunk beneath the waves, taking all aboard with it; with the possibility air pockets, only Eelume Offshore Robotics can locate any survivors, but that does not address how they can be safely rescued from a hundred meters below stormy seas, nor what kind of unheard of subsidence can cause a modern oil rig to collapse entirely in less than three minutes.
Directed by John Andreas Andersen from a script by Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and Lars Gudmestad, The Burning Sea (originally titled Nordsjøen, simply North Sea) is the latest Norwegian environmental disaster epic following The Wave and The Quake, a warning that nature is unpredictable and unanswerable to humanity, gripping throughout and at times distressing viewing not recommended for those suffering from claustrophobia, thalassophobia or both.
Starring Kristine Kujath Thorp as Sofia, Henrik Bjelland as Stian and Bjørn Floberg as Saga incident manager William Lie, unlike many similar films there is no battle with corporate inertia; as soon as the evidence is presented along with its alarming conclusion action is taken, a complete halt to operations and evacuation of all platforms, though perhaps already too late as an ancient subsea landslide begins to shift, possibly triggered by drilling, possibly by warming seas, but either way opening a rift through a field of 350 rigs.
The number is not coincidental, representing the upper safe limit of carbon dioxide particles per million in the atmosphere, The Burning Sea a work of fiction presenting a worst-case scenario of the unpredictable causes which result in catastrophic, even apocalyptic, results; we have only ourselves to blame, and only we can change the way forward by shifting the dynamic of our adversarial relationship with the angry sea and the biting wind, forming a partnership with their tumultuous power before they destroy us.
The Burning Sea will be available on digital platforms from Monday 30th May